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  • FIRST POST
    • Sunday Morning
    • By Sunday Morning 15th Sep 07, 9:20 PM
    • 110Posts
    • 44Thanks
    Sunday Morning
    Car Insurance - Without Drive Assist!
    • #1
    • 15th Sep 07, 9:20 PM
    Car Insurance - Without Drive Assist! 15th Sep 07 at 9:20 PM
    Is it possible to get fully comp car insurance without DRIVE ASSIST being involved! This is a company that appears to get itself involved with non fault insurance cases. By way of explanation of what they do and why I want no more dealings with them...

    We have a Vauxhall Zafira for which we arranged fully comp insurance with ZURICH UK, with a £150 excess.

    A few months ago, after my wife had parked in a road, a car went into it, causing some panel damage. There was no problem with obtaining the details or an admission of fault. We thought, with our insurance cover, it ought to be quite straightforward, and advised them of the details accordingly.

    We were somewhat surprised to be told however that we would have to pay our £150 excess to the panel beaters. Apparently, the company ZURICH UK appointed, DRIVE ASSIST, were in charge of arranging a courtesy car for us and claiming back our excess payment. Our car ended up off the road for a week.

    We were told the car we would have would be a similar make and model. Instead we had a Land Rover automatic (ours is manual) which my wife found uncomfortable and a bit overpowering to drive. It certainly guzzled petrol at a lot faster rate than our own car did.

    When the hire car was picked up again, a man looked it over, made no more comment other to say it was a lot cleaner then the ones he usually picked up, and got my wife to sign for its return on a hand held device.

    We then got a letter dated 2nd July attaching a copy of a form "for our records". Attached was the "form" signed by my wife (who only actualy signed a hand held device" ) and, among the list of many "OKs" was one for the "LHR quarter" which said "scratch". My wife was totally unaware of there being such a scratch, had not been asked to initial this and had not even been told about it. But since the letter stated "if there is any new damage shown you may be charged for this in due course", we assumed nothing further would happen.

    At the beginning of August we had a letter from them stating that they had been in contact with the insurers of the owners of the other vehicle, to claim back the hire charges and our excess, who had denied being in such an accident. The vehicle registration number they quoted for the other owner was one letter away from our own registration number! Sensing a mistake I rang them. They rang me back and advised that although the letter did have the incorrect registration number on it, they did have the right ones in their records and the owner was still denying liability. Since the "owner" was the name of a company that seemed to be based in Glasgow (we are in Herts), I again sensed that something was amiss. Having no luck with my phone calls to the girl whose name was on the letter who kept insisting their details were correct, I finally got to talk to her manager. I was curious as to where they had got the details from in the first place. It was Zurich, my insurance company, and so I wondered why they weren't taking this up with them directly. Anyway...finally....finally it transpired that yet again they were one letter out on their registration number and, having got the right number from ZURICH UK, they were finally able to sort it out.

    So...just over a week ago, more than two months after we had paid it out, we finally got back our excess.

    I vowed at that time that I would not renew my insurance with Zurich. If I have fully comp insurance I expect to deal with one company and one company only, and certainly not a company whom Zurich appoint to deal with me without my say so, especially when they appear so incompetent.

    But today, we got the coup de grace. Well over two month since they returned the paperwork too us showing the courtesy car to have had a "scratch", we had another letter from DRIVE ASSIST today advising us that £160 would be debited from us within two weeks for damage to the car!!!!!

    Apparently we have 14 days to send our queries in writing to avoid the debit being processed.

    Well, it can be guaranteed that we will query this bill.

    And it can be guaranteed that we will send a copy of that query to ZURICH UK with a note explaining why we won't be renewing our car insurance with them.

    Sorry this has been so long, but I'm wondering two things. Has anybody else had experiences of DRIVE ASSIST?

    And which Insurance Companies out there do fully comp the way it really ought to be done? I understand why and don't mind other companies are used. But I want my insurers to deal with the other companies leaving me to deal with the company I signed a contract with. For example, for the type of "no fault" accident we were involved with, I can't see why it shouldn't be my insurance company paying out in full and reclaiming from heir appointed company instead of me.
    Last edited by Sunday Morning; 15-09-2007 at 9:29 PM. Reason: spelling
Page 2
    • rabialiones
    • By rabialiones 11th Nov 07, 11:15 PM
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    rabialiones
    i also received letter from drive assist stating they would collect money on the 2nd of november, at such a short notice , i had no option but to cancel my card of which they had details. i did not reply to their letter , but i expect they will be sending me one demanding the money.
    Nice to save.
    • Sunday Morning
    • By Sunday Morning 15th Nov 07, 2:52 AM
    • 110 Posts
    • 44 Thanks
    Sunday Morning
    It's nice to know other media sources are interested, but I feel the first opportunity should go to who drew attention to the "scam" in the first place. Hence I sent this email off today to the guy who did the Guardian article mentioned earlier in the thread...

    Your article of Saturday July 21 2007 was very interesting. The letters you had received on he company clearly indicted to me a company that was eager to "try it on" to get money out of those who would put up and say no more.

    I rebelled. They backed down. But they still left me with a nasty taste in the mouth.

    I was wondering....do you follow stories like this up? I put my story down in the forum on moneysavingexpert.... http://forums.moneysavingexpert.com/showthread.html?t=552905 which is how I came across your article.

    I know that others are still being pressed for money by the company to settle "unproven" claims.

    Do these guys have a licence to print money and does anyone regulate them at all!!

    Regards

    Sunday Morning

    The more I think about what happened to me and what I know is happening to others, the more I think this company are embarked upon a fraudulent exercise to con their "customers" out of money.

    But of course...that's just my opinion! They MAY be a perfectly upstanding company and I may have got them all wrong.

    It's just that I don't think I have :-)
  • Lammy
    Hi all,

    First post. I had the 'pleasure' of dealing with Drive Assist last week. Had their Ford Ka for three weeks and agreed to pay a CDW (Collision Damage Waiver) at 21 a week (for a maximum of 3 weeks). This was a non-fault accident whereby my mother's car was smashed up at 2am by a van that lost control, while her car was parked up and stationary whilst my mother was asleep in her house unaware of what happened until she woke up.

    So after 3 weeks of use, Drive Assist phoned me to tell me that I would have to return the car as there is a legal loophole meaning that the third party's insurers could stop paying for the use of the car if I don't make a decision on the offer that was given to me immediately. Then I would have to pay the 65 per day charge for the car. As I wasn't happy with my insurance company's offer I said I will be declining the offer and they could take their car back as I wasn't going to be forced to say yes to the offer just so I could keep their car for a bit longer. After I said they could take the car back, it was sitting there for another 8 days. I phoned them to say that I wanted the car removed ASAP as it was now in my way. They said they would be collecting the car by 1pm the next day at the latest. Anyway, the next day arrives and I hadn't heard anything by 12pm so I phoned them again and they denied all knowledge of our conversation the day before. I was not pleased. The car was finally collected the day after and my mother signed their PDA. Needless to say that the car was in the same condition as when I got it. A letter arrived this morning stating that their was damage to the car. They mentioned scratches, excessively dirty, no petrol left in it (even though there was more than when they gave it to me). They also said that if any more damage was found they would be charging me accordingly. Absolutely shocking seeing as they were mentioned on Watchdog a couple of days ago. I will wait and see if they try and sting me but I guess the fact that I opted to pay the CDW, I must be protected. Here's hoping. One things for sure, I hope to never need to use their services again.
  • Lammy
    Here's the link from the Watchdog coverage:

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/consumer/tv_and_radio/watchdog/reports/transport/transport_20071119.shtml
    • Sunday Morning
    • By Sunday Morning 27th Nov 07, 2:57 PM
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    • 44 Thanks
    Sunday Morning
    Lammy

    Thanks for the info re Watchdog. I'm gutted to have missed the programme, not knowing they were on it. Their reaction strikes me as being similar to the one after they were featured in the Guardian article...namely to put their hands up, notify that no one will be charged after all, hope this reaction nullifies any further complaints about them and puts them back under the radar, then resume business as usual!

    You'll be aware that your case is not a unique one by any means. Nonetheless I'd say that leaving the car at your place for over eight days is incredible. They surely have an obligation to pick it up at their earliest convenience, especially you would be liable for anything that happened to it in that time. I certainly couldn't see why you should be held responsible for keeping it clean all that time!

    Perhaps it might be an idea to submit them an invoice in respect of charges incurred for letting them keep their vehicle on your property all that time! I might suggest they are very similar to the amount that they are now claiming from you :-).

    Anyway, let us know how you get on. I think this is the kind of company that deserves to be kept in the spotlight.

    I'd still like to know if these PDA's they use have any legal standing. Seems strange they can present a signature as something of "evidence" when that signature is provided only as requested to confirm the release of the car and not to admit, (nor even to have the knowledge of) any damage they claim the signature acknowledges.

    But most of all I'd like to know if there are insurance companies out there who shield their customers from their outsourcing, and instead deal on a one to one with basis with all aspects of an insurance claim, whether that involves attempting to first recover any excess from the party at fault rather than charge their customers automatically, through to the direct arranging of a coutesy car if required.

    My insurance was purchased through Zurich UK, which is what bought me into contact with Drive Assist in the first place. that experience has not opnly put me off Drive Assist, but any insurance company that uses them. Hence I'll be looking elsewhere to renew my car insurance come January.
    • rabialiones
    • By rabialiones 28th Nov 07, 8:58 AM
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    rabialiones
    is it legal for them to transfer the signature from the pda to a sheet of paper?
    i signed on the pda, yet they have sent me a sheet of paper which seems to have my signature on it.
    i was never asked to or given any paper to sign
    Nice to save.
    • vikingaero
    • By vikingaero 28th Nov 07, 9:19 AM
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    • 13,132 Thanks
    vikingaero
    Seems like Drive Assist like to bump up their fees with spurious claims about scratches and damage. There's too many Drive Assist claims of damage to be true.

    Seems like the moral of the story is to refuse to sign the PDA. Anything could later be amended on the PDA. Give the pick-up driver a letter saying that you refuse to sign and note the time and date of pick up and that the car is in good nick. Then use a video camera in front of the pick-up driver and film the car in detail. Even film the pick-up driver too! If they want to play dirty then the only way to behave is to get dirty or cover yourself.
    • rabialiones
    • By rabialiones 28th Nov 07, 11:30 PM
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    rabialiones
    good ideas vikingaero, i wish i had thought of these before as well.
    Nice to save.
    • Sunday Morning
    • By Sunday Morning 29th Nov 07, 8:16 AM
    • 110 Posts
    • 44 Thanks
    Sunday Morning
    Now I am armed with hindsight, that is certainly something I would do. Hopefully this thread helps to arm others without them having to go through the experience.

    I'd love to see someone conduct an independent audit on the company to see, for example, whether every bit of damage they claim was on the returned cars, was either repaired there and then (for the cost claimed), or listed as existing damage when provided to the next customer.
    • Sunday Morning
    • By Sunday Morning 29th Nov 07, 8:19 AM
    • 110 Posts
    • 44 Thanks
    Sunday Morning
    Rab

    I understand that following the Watchdog programme, Drive Assist dropped all the claims against those who were protesting about their charges through the programme.

    Have the claims against you been dropped yet?
    • Jue xx
    • By Jue xx 29th Nov 07, 9:24 AM
    • 285 Posts
    • 950 Thanks
    Jue xx
    Drive Assist
    We caught Watchdog last night. I didn't see the originial programme with the Drive Assist article, but my ears certainly pricked up last night when I heard their name! I too have been in dispute with DA regarding unfairly charging for alleged scratches, so I immediately sent them an email to their designated email address, copying Watchdog in it too, attaching the letters I had sent them earlier in the year disputing their damage claims.

    Fingers crossed I'll get my 160.00 back.
    • Jue xx
    • By Jue xx 29th Nov 07, 9:30 AM
    • 285 Posts
    • 950 Thanks
    Jue xx
    Seems like the moral of the story is to refuse to sign the PDA.
    Originally posted by vikingaero
    I didn't!

    I left their car at the repairer's garage when I collected mine, and the copy of the damage report they sent me had two signatures on it - neither of which were mine! That didn't make any difference to them when I queried it, their response was:
    (Vehicle Condition Report, Collection) "clearly shows that there was damage to the vehicle on collection of the vehicle, and this has been acknowledged with a valid signature" - NOT MY SIGNATURE!!

    And they still took the 160.00 out of my account.
    • Jue xx
    • By Jue xx 29th Nov 07, 9:43 AM
    • 285 Posts
    • 950 Thanks
    Jue xx
    Drive Assist - Grrrr!
    Think it's time I went over to the Vents Thread now to let off steam!!
    • rabialiones
    • By rabialiones 29th Nov 07, 11:06 AM
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    • 232 Thanks
    rabialiones
    Rab

    I understand that following the Watchdog programme, Drive Assist dropped all the claims against those who were protesting about their charges through the programme.

    Have the claims against you been dropped yet?
    Originally posted by Sunday Morning

    i have contacted watchdog via the email address that was supplied, i am as yet awaiting a reply.
    i will phone them to see whats happening, and will keep u informed!
    Nice to save.
  • and78
    I have after two letters not got through to drive assist that they are in the wrong and they have charged my card with £230. I am not giving up yet and have used the watchdog email again to send a complaint and demand my money back. This is a deplorable way to do buisness. I wish everyone good luck claiming there money back by the looks of things drive assist is going to be very busy answering emails/ phone calls.
  • BillyMansell
    I had the misfortune of using Drive Assist following a non-fault accident earlier this year and two months later was charged 170 for the pleasure. I did complain at the time that I had only signed for the return of the vehicle and had not been advised at the time of signing of any alleged damage whilst the car was my responsibility, but had little hope for success.

    I caught the end of Watchdog yesterday so immediately went online, found the contact details and emailed Drive Assist last night with my complaint. Got home today and found a telephone message from Drive Assist explaining that they are to reimburse my money and forward written confirmation.

    An amazing outcome for what I felt was a lost cause.
    • rabialiones
    • By rabialiones 30th Nov 07, 11:26 AM
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    • 232 Thanks
    rabialiones
    Hurrah!
    Pleased to inform that i have today received a very apologetic letter from drive assist stating they will refund the charges and credit my account.
    It seems that watchdog programme and mse together have been successful in getting them worried enough to realise it will affect their business if they dont deal with people in the right manner so they have decided to take steps to reimburse peeps and hopefully improve their service.
    It seems that dealing with matter over phone rather than email will get a quicker response.
    emailed last week - as yet no response.
    phoned on wednesday - was told i would receive a reply within 14 days.
    Received a phone call yesterday , i wasn't in.
    received letter this a.m. first class post.
    I am sure others will also receive any money back - good luck to all.
    just feel sorry for peeps who have been targeted by this company before and have lost out. - i am sure there must be many.

    btw, thanks to all who helped and for their concern
    Nice to save.
  • and78
    Me too received a phone call after my email sent and recieved a letter today stating full refund what a result. good luck to everyone still waiting.
    • Sunday Morning
    • By Sunday Morning 3rd Dec 07, 10:32 AM
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    • 44 Thanks
    Sunday Morning
    That's great news Rab and and78... similar wishes to those still waiting.

    I'm especially struck by how similar the amounts being charged are. they wanted 160 off me which I've seen elsewhere and other amounts seems to be in the range 150 to 230. Do they have a repairer who charges fixed rates whatever the damage? Or could it be linked to the excess that was recovered? 160 was 10 above my excess...I wonder if they think there is a tolerance level where people would simply pay up if it wasn't much over their excess?

    The other thing I'd love to see is the audit trail of a car. I'd love to know whether the "scratch" that was alleged to be on the car when it was picked up from us, was either repaired, or represented as damage when it was presented to the next person.

    Wouldn't it be strange if it could be proved that they had charged two differenct customers with causing the same damage and attempted to charge them both for it? Strange, but not improbable in my opinion. And preventing anyone undertaking that kind of investigative analysis might be seen as a good reason for waiving all disputed charges, especially with a media scrutiny underway!
    • Jue xx
    • By Jue xx 7th Dec 07, 1:16 PM
    • 285 Posts
    • 950 Thanks
    Jue xx
    I too have been offered a full refund!

    The other thing I'd love to see is the audit trail of a car. I'd love to know whether the "scratch" that was alleged to be on the car when it was picked up from us, was either repaired, or represented as damage when it was presented to the next person.
    Originally posted by Sunday Morning
    The car they loaned me already had four scratches on it, listed on the damage report, when they delivered it to me. So they appear to have been charging for damage and not even repairing it before handing the car over to their next "victim"!
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